Heartsease or Brother's Wife
Will you walk into my parlour?' said a spider to a fly.
And where was Arthur?
Spending the day with his sporting friends, much to his own satisfaction, till in the
evening, greatly against his will, he was taken out to dine with an old Mr. Randall,
of Gothlands, the master of the hounds.
His nieces, the Misses Marstone, were the ladies of the house--well- dressed
people, a little 'passees', but apparently not having found it out. Arthur watched
the arrivals hoping that the order of precedence might not consign him to the flow
of talk, of which he had already had quite a sufficiency, when, to his surprise, two
ladies, evidently at home, entered together.
One--thin, sallow, spectacled--was, as he knew, an inhabitant; but the other--
small, slight, and retiring, and, in spite of clinging unfresh muslin and shrinking
figure, with the unmistakable air of high breeding, was a most unexpected sight.
At least, thought he, here was one lady who would not bore him, and making his
way to her, he inquired for Lady Elizabeth. Emma, on the other hand, asked after
Violet; and it was curious that both questions were put and answered with
constraint, as if each was conscious of being something like a truant.
Another surprise. 'Mr. Gardner.' In walked Mark himself, and, after shaking hands
with the elder Miss Marstone, came towards Emma and her friend, and was
received with cordial familiarity. He entered into conversation with Arthur,
drawing a little further from Miss Brandon at each step, till having brought him
close to old Mr. Randall, and placed him under the infliction of a long prose about
the hounds, he retreated, and was soon again in conversation with the two
friends, Emma's face raised and lighted up with eagerness.
Colonel Martindale had no escape from the head of the table and the eldest of
the Misses Marstone. Resigning himself to his fate, he made talk; and, though
now broader, redder, and somewhat coarser in feature and complexion than he
had been a few years ago, he looked so gay and unencumbered, that his
neighbour speculated as to whether he could be the eldest son, and resolved to
discover what her sister, Sarah Theresa, knew of him.
'It is so pleasant when friends meet unexpectedly,' said she. 'I did not know you
were acquainted with either of our guests.'
'Miss Brandon is a near neighbour of my father, and a great friend of Mrs.
Death to any incipient scheme of Miss Marstone; but she smiled on, and
remarked, 'A very amiable girl, and a beautiful place, is it not, Rickworth?'
'Very pretty, a fine property,' said Arthur, talking as if in his sleep, for he had
caught Mark Gardner's voice saying something about an oratory.
'My sister is often staying there,' proceeded the lady. 'You know Miss Brandon's
scheme of restoring the Priory?'
'I did not know that was anything more than talk.'